Every writer has something unique to them that they must say. No one has your experiences, your view on life, and the words that you use like you do. That’s why writers are always read and followed…but only if you stay true to you.
You’re not Stephen King, John Grisham, or even Rick Jantz (that’s me). And you don’t want to be. It doesn’t make sense to copy that which you aren’t. But it does make sense to study them and follow their “how to write formulas” because they work (mine may still be debatable but give me time).
Writing is not a pastime, something to be done when you have the time or when it’s convenient. Writing is a “have to do” attitude that takes you off of your couch, away from your TV and to your private spot that releases the pent up passion and stories you have to tell.
Writing is doing, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it must be “you”. If people want to read King they would buy his books. But if you want them to read “you” then you must give them that. It will be your uniqueness, your “spin on the world” that grabs their attention and brings them back for more.
Here is what you must do (of course, these are my thoughts, and you must internalize them and make them yours):
Who The Heck Are You?
What are your values, your beliefs? What is that line in the sand that you will not cross and that you won’t let others cross? Knowing these will be instrumental to your success as a writer.
This isn’t about what you are (job, possessions, or status in life). This is about who you are and what you know to be true. Honor this and you will add vision to your writing and passion to what you’re writing about.
What Do You Stand For?
Are you a “good vs. evil” kind of writer? Are you OK with killing people in your stories if that’s the nature of your genre? I’m a Western writer and gunfights are critical to my stories, so fictional people die. However, for the past year this has bothered me to the point that, even in fiction, I don’t want to kill people. I think there’s enough of that in the world: in real life, in movies and T.V., and, of course, the video games we let our kids play for hours at a time. We’ve normalized killing, and I’m not good with that.
Is the moral of your story the most important element? Meaning, your reader must leave with the truth in their mind and uplifted by what you have written. Remember, even if this is your goal you still must tell your story in a credible and believable way.
What Do You Know?
Writing is a grand adventure and your opportunity to take your readers to places unknown and introduce them to wild and even intense places and make them like hateable characters. But you still need to know something about your setting and the people you populate it with.
Alternatively, you must be prepared to do the research so you can create a believable backstory so your places, people, and things are real. So even if your story takes place on another world or era your readers will go there with you and can see, smell, and hear this place you’ve taken them to.
Are You Willing To Sell Your Soul?
For many, it comes down to this: do you write what’s popular in order to make money or do you write based on principles and ethics only? Or is there a middle ground?
Can you take what’s popular, what’s trending, and make that into a story? What if you took a movie star, there are plenty of bad ones if you wish, and place them in a situation where they must help others to survive or perhaps they’ve lost their memory and must start all over again. How would they fare? And would they rise to fame and fortune again because that is who they innately are?
Through these kinds of stories your view of the world, your perspective, can be told through the lives of your characters. Give them that line they won’t cross. Place them in a conflict that if, not life and death, is at least making them risk something.
You don’t have to sell your soul, those things that you value, when you let your characters explore, take chances, and hold true to their own values. Stretch them, and you stretch yourself.